This is who we are
First Presbyterian Church is the “church on Church Street” in the heart of historic downtown Bowling Green, Ohio.
Our congregation is a mix of families, singles, students and seniors who are committed to growing their faith and living as Christ taught us to live. We provide meaningful worship, insightful educational programs, inspirational music, challenging mission opportunities and abundant fellowship for all ages.
Organization and Government
The First Presbyterian Church of Bowling Green, Ohio is a part of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). The Presbyterian Church is a representative democracy governed by Elders elected from and by the congregation, founded on the concept of democratic rule under the word of God.
Authority rests with a Moderator and 12 Elders, appointed to the governing body of the church, called the Session. Decisions concerning the care and ministry of the congregation are made through the Session. Standing committees report to the session.
The overall national church structure consists of four governing bodies: the Sessions of each church, the Presbyteries (groups of local churches), the Synods (groups of Presbyteries) and the General Assembly, a national governing body made up of equal numbers of lay people and clergy.
The congregation also elects a Board of Trustees consisting of 9 members to handle the business and financial operations of the church. They serve as the corporate officers for all legal and financial matters and are responsible for advising the session and congregation on the management of the property of the church and carrying out the responsibilities designated to it by session.
Our church also has a 12 member board of Deacons, who are elected to conduct the charitable ministry of the church.
Serve the Lord
Seek the Truth
Share the Word
Shine the Light
A Brief History
First Presbyterian Church of Bowling Green can trace its origin to the very early settling of the Black Swamp of NW Ohio. Thirteen people, along with Reverend Perry C. Baldwin founded First Presbyterian Church of Bowling Green, OH on the thirteenth of October, 1855. Of the 13 founding members, 10 had been members of the Church of the Plain, now known as Plain Congregational Church located just west of BG. Plain Congregational Church was founded in 1835 by missionaries from a Presbyterian Indian Mission. That mission was begun in 1823 along the Maumee River near Tontogany Creek several miles NW of Bowling Green.
First Presbyterian Church has had many dedicated pastors over its long history. Rev. Perry C. Baldwin was our first pastor and also served Plain Church. After he left Plain Church, he continued at First Presbyterian until after the Civil War. One long term pastorate was that of Rev. Dr. Greer Imbrie, who served the First Presbyterian congregation for 31 years from January 1954 until December 1984. During that time, communicant membership grew from 611 to 925 and a new educational building was added.
The original Building—a white clapboard structure dedicated on February 8, 1860—was small and unattractive. The second church building, completed in 1860, burned to the ground on January 2, 1919. The Present building (on the same site as the first two) was completed in 1922. The church building, built of red brick and sandstone, is an historic fixture in downtown Bowling Green. In 1960, an educational wing was added to provide for church offices and additional classroom space for the Christian Education program.
The stained glass windows were donated by Agnetta Chidester Baldwin, the second wife of the judge, in memory of her son, Murray Brown Chidester, who had been killed in an automobile accident. “The windows in the local church are second to none in the United States,” the Daily Sentinel Tribune commented when the twenty-four new stained glass windows were dedicated December 11, 1938. The windows were crafted from imported glass in New York State and installed by Henry F. Keck & Company of New York City. Keck had been an artist with the late Louis Comfort Tiffany, the outstanding builder of windows in the United States at the time.
The present baptismal font was given in 1917 by Judge Frank Baldwin in memory of his first wife. The font was designed and built by Tiffany’s in New York. The mosaic repeats the pattern of the Perry Baldwin memorial window that had been designed for the second church. A gold dome used to cover the font, but was destroyed in the 1919 fire.
First Presbyterian Church has been a presence in the downtown of Bowling Green, Ohio, for over 150 years. In both our professional activities and in our faith lives, the members of the congregation have engaged actively in the community. Serving as business and civic leaders and creating service programs in Bowling Green as well as long-distance mission projects, we have been part of a growing city for decades. As the local university expanded, many of the congregation members were associated with it as faculty and staff. There is a tremendous pool of talent—intellectual, occupational, missional—among the membership. Our members tend to be accepting of diversity, compassionate and welcoming to all. We are generous when appeals for support are made: building maintenance and enhancement, special mission and needs, a one-time event or project.
We are proud of our long year history of serving the spiritual needs of the community from our downtown location as the only church ever to be located on “Church Street” in Bowling Green.